Policeman Shoots Christian Dead in Southern Egypt

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Christians in Egypt took to the streets on Tuesday, protesting an attack that left an elderly Christian man dead and five others wounded.

An off-duty policeman boarded a Cairo-bound train at the town of Samalout in Minya province and opened fire on passengers with a handgun, killing a 71-year-old Christian man and injuring his wife and four others.

Hundreds of Coptic Christians clashed with police outside a hospital in the central Egyptian province of Minya where fellow believers were being treated for gunshot wounds. All of the casualties in the latest attack were Christians - four of them women.

An Egyptian ministry statement identified the gunman as Amer Ashour Abdel-Zaher, a 23-year-old Muslim police officer.

The ministry statement added that Abdel-Zaher, who was not wearing a uniform, had been on his way to work at a town near Samalout. Police arrested him at his nearby home after he fled the scene and he was being questioned, according to the statement.

Tuesday's incident came two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 21 Christians outside of a church. The church attack on worshippers leaving a New Year's Mass in the Mediterranean port of Alexandria touched off three days of riots and demonstrations by furious Christians who criticized the government for failing to protect them.

Meanwhile, Egypt's government angrily recalled its ambassador to the Vatican after the Pope said the government should do more to protect religious minorities.

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